The Sound of Silence

YOU South Africa|4 June 2020

The Sound of Silence
A quiet life is all Harry wanted – and after he moved out of his noisy family’s home, he found it. But would it last?
PAULA WILLIAMS

IF YOU were to ask Harry Tremayne what his favourite sound in the whole world was, he wouldn’t hesitate. Not for a second.

“Silence,” he’d say. “The sound of silence.”

And there was a good reason why Harry treasured silence above everything. His family.

He was the oldest of six children, five of whom were as noisy as a flock of starlings. He’d often wondered why flocks of starlings were sometimes called murmurations. Starlings, like his siblings, didn’t murmur. They shouted, squabbled and chattered nonstop.

Even the Tremayne family dogs were noisy. They barked at empty chip packets bowling along the road and yapped at everyone from the postman to the man who read the 8pm news. Harry grew up in a cacophony of noise – and he couldn’t leave it quickly enough.

Not that he didn’t love his family. He did. But preferably from a distance, with the sound turned down.

So as soon as he could, Harry left his noisy family home, worked and studied hard and eventually found himself a job pushing numbers around a computer screen in a large open plan, minimalist office where the only sound was the tapping of keyboards and the occasional gurgle of the water fountain.

He was paid a lot of money to push numbers around, so before long he was able to afford an open plan, minimalist flat with a great view and triple glazing to cut out the sound from the world outside. His happiness, he thought, was complete. He couldn’t be any happier.

BUT he was wrong.

Because one Monday morning he met Annabel and fell instantly in love for the first and last time in his life.

In Annabel, Harry had met his soulmate. They both enjoyed quiet, reflective music and hated the noisy modern stuff. They enjoyed bird-watching and hated organised sport of any kind. Neither of them owned a TV. And the thing that made Harry happier than he would’ve thought possible was that Annabel appeared to love him as much as he loved her. Amazing.

They had a quiet wedding. As quiet as a wedding can be, of course, with the small country hotel they’d chosen for their wedding venue on account of its peace and tranquillity filled with his family and hers, all hell-bent on celebrating in the only way they knew how – noisily.

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4 June 2020